INSIGHT – In the opportunity for Trump, young people at Rally see him as an answer to economic problems

Isayah Turner, 23, thin with a boyish face and earrings in both ears, doesn’t look like a stereotypical Trump supporter, who is usually middle-aged or older.

Still, Turner recently drove two hours from his home outside Milwaukee on Tuesday to see Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, one of the young voters there that some polls suggest could play a growing and important role. demographically for Trump.

For Democratic incumbent Joe Biden, who overwhelmingly won the youth vote in 2020, an erosion of his support among young voters could potentially dampen his hopes for a second term.

Turner, who runs a dog breeding business with his mother, voted for Trump in 2020. He supports Trump’s pro-oil drilling stance, his opposition to gun control — Turner owns several firearms — and his promise to crack down on illegal immigration.

“I can’t think of one thing Trump did that upset me while he was in power. And now that Biden is in power, there are countless things I disagree with,” Turner told Reuters. “A lot of my friends are on the same page as me.”

A Reuters/Ipsos poll in March found that Americans aged 18 to 29 favored Biden over Trump by just 3 percentage points – 29% to 26% – while the rest preferred another candidate or were unsure knew who would get his vote.

If 77-year-old Trump were to remain close to 81-year-old Biden in this demographic through Election Day on November 5, it would be a big gain compared to 2020, when Biden won the youth vote by 24 points.

Concerns about Biden’s age and his support for Israel in the war against Hamas in Gaza have fueled the erosion of his support among young voters, while he is also losing Spanish-speaking voters.

There are also signs that young people are slowly joining the Republican Party, despite Biden’s efforts to keep them on side by trying to cancel student debt, expand affordable housing and roll back restrictions on abortion rights. to make.

The share of Americans ages 18 to 29 who identify as Republicans has grown, from 24% in 2016 to 26% in 2020 and 28% so far this year, Reuters/Ipsos polling shows.

Despite a mix of cold winds, sleet and rain, about 3,000 Trump supporters lined up outside a convention center in Green Bay on April 2 to see Trump. The crowd, as usual, was getting older, but there were also hundreds of young people.

Reuters interviewed 20 people under the age of 30 to understand their support. The most common reason for supporting the former president was inflation and the perception that the economy wasn’t working for them, underscoring how the rise in prices for staples is more striking to some than the high stock prices and low unemployment during the Biden -years.

“I make decent money and I can’t afford a house with the salary I’m making now,” said Steve Wendt, 26, a security guard at a nearby hospital. “It’s time to put a man in power again who will lower our prices.”

At the same time, a majority said they agreed with Trump’s reluctance about helping Ukraine in its war with Russia, an isolationist stance that runs counter to Biden’s foreign policy agenda.

Collin Crego, 19, a history student, said money spent abroad could be better used to tackle domestic problems such as drug addiction.

“I don’t really like what we’re doing with Ukraine,” Crego said. “When I hear him (Trump) talk, he’s very patriotic, very ‘America First’ and I like that.”

Of the 20 people Reuters interviewed, 15 cited inflation or other economic concerns as a reason they support Trump, while a dozen said his plan to limit immigration was important to them.

All said they were not bothered by the four criminal cases Trump faces, or by the idea that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election made him a threat to democracy. One was black, the other 19 were white. Eight of them will cast their first presidential ballots this year.

Caitlyn Huenink, 20, said it can be difficult to be a young Trump supporter because left-leaning young people tend to frown on her views. However, she said she has recently seen changes among her peer group at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

“They are more open to the way I think and more of my friends are becoming Republican,” she said.


To be fair, a group of young people willing to brave bad weather to see Trump is not a representative sample of the broader electorate, and polls this early in the cycle could provide an answer. Younger people are less likely to vote than older Americans, making them particularly difficult to predict.

Moreover, some polls show that Biden retains his significant lead among young people.

An Economist/YouGov poll conducted last week found that 51% of voters under 30 chose Biden, compared with 32% for Trump, while the Harvard Youth Poll, released Thursday, showed Biden’s lead over Trump among likely young voters at 19 points.

“Donald Trump is not winning the youth vote,” John Della Volpe, director of the Harvard poll, told Reuters.

The Biden campaign is not sitting still. In March, it launched a $30 million ad buy on digital platforms and announced a project to reach students and recruit volunteers at high schools and college campuses. She works to inform young people about the government’s investments in green energy and efforts to protect access to abortion.

“That’s why the campaign is working tirelessly to earn the votes of young voters – investing earlier than ever and taking every opportunity to connect with young voters,” said Eve Levenson, the campaign’s director of youth engagement.

The latest Marist College poll was nevertheless a red flag for Biden. The survey, conducted in March, found Trump ahead by two points among Millennial and Gen-Z voters, with 61% of 18-29 year olds saying they disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president .

The Trump campaign is eyeing young people as a demographic for potential gains in 2024, a campaign adviser told reporters last month. He said the economy and foreign conflicts — Trump often claims the Russian attack on Ukraine would not have happened on his watch — were important topics to report to this group.

“Like many Americans, young people cannot afford rent, gas or groceries, and are struggling to buy a home as real wages have plummeted,” said Anna Kelly, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee.

Kelly also pointed to a finding from the Harvard poll — that only 9% of young Americans think the U.S. is on the right track — as evidence that some were turning to Trump.

Among young voters, Trump seems to do better with men. According to the Harvard poll, Biden’s lead among young men was just 6 percentage points, down 20 points from four years ago. Trump’s deficit against women was 33 points, largely unchanged.

Della Volpe says the gender gap likely reflects several factors. One is that young men feel they are losing the right to speak openly because of the progressive views they believe are imposed on them about political correctness and toxic masculinity. These concerns are amplified by Trump and podcasters like Jordan Peterson, popular with young men.

Trump has attended several Ultimate Fighting Championship events this election cycle, which are favored by young men. He also appeared at a sneaker convention in Philadelphia, where he put his gold “Never Surrender High-Tops” up for sale.

It was the kind of campaign stop meant to resonate with voters like Turner, a sneaker enthusiast who wore a pair of $400 Nikes when Reuters spent an afternoon with him at his dog shop two days after the rally.

Turner spoke about the challenges of running a business. He said gas was a big expense because he often drives hours away to breeders.

Turner said it was his Trump-loving mother, a former backer of President Barack Obama, who got him interested in politics.

Like other young people Reuters met at the meeting, Turner said it was Trump’s way of speaking, without regard to the political consequences, that made him attractive. He said Trump’s inhumane rhetoric bothers him, but he believes — as Trump has claimed — that Biden is the real threat to America.

“Some of it is extreme,” Turner said of Trump’s speech. “But at the same time, if it means the country is going to do phenomenally better… and it’s still going to be a free country, I can get my feelings hurt in return.”